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Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey
Monarchs Royal consorts and heirs Famous people

Westminster Abbey has been the site of a monastery since the 8th century but it was the Anglo-Saxon monarch Edward the Confessor who rebuilt it into the Abbey that is the basis of the structure today.

On Edward's death in 1066 he became the first of a long line of monarchs to be buried there, a tradition that continued into the 19th century when it was superceded by St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. The spouse of the ruling monarch, or royal consort, was often buried in the Abbey alongside them.

Another tradition which has continued up until the present day, began with William the Conqueror, who on Christmas Day 1066 became the first monarch to be crowned at the Abbey.

Many famous people have also been buried in the Abbey. In 1400 the poet Geoffrey Chaucer was buried there since when that part of the Abbey is known as Poet's Corner.

Westminster Abbey

The following is a selection of some of the famous people who have been buried in the Abbey.

15th Century 17th Century 19th Century
16th Century 18th Century 20th Century


15th century


Geoffrey Chaucer
Poet
died 1400 Portrait


 

16th century


Edmund Spenser
Poet
died 1599

Portrait



 

17th century

Ben Jonson
Poet laureate (buried upright)
died 1637 Portrait
Oliver Cromwell
Soldier and politician
died 1658 See Note 1 Portrait
Sir William D'Avenant
Poet laureate
died 1668 Portrait
Margaret Cavendish
Writer and natural philosopher
died 1673 Portrait
Aphra Behn
First English professional woman writer
died 1689 Portrait
Thomas Shadwell
Poet laureate
died 1692 Portrait
Henry Purcell
Composer
died 1695 Portrait


 

18th century


John Dryden
Poet laureate
died 1700 Portrait
Nicholas Rowe
Poet laureate
died 1718 Portrait
Sir Isaac Newton
Scientist
died 1727 Portrait
George Frideric Handel
Composer
died 1759 Portrait
Earl of Chatham
Prime Minister
died 1778 Portrait
David Garrick
Actor
died 1779 Portrait
Samuel Johnson
Writer
died 1784 Portrait
Robert Adam
Architect
died 1792 Portrait


 

19th century

William Pitt, the Younger
Prime Minister
died 1806 Portrait
George Canning
Prime Minister
died 1827 Portrait
William Wilberforce
Reformer
died 1833 Portrait
Thomas Telford
Civil engineer
died 1834 Portrait
Viscount Palmerston
Prime Minister
died 1865 Portrait
Charles Dickens
Novelist
died 1870 Portrait
David Livingstone
Explorer
died 1873 Portrait
Charles Darwin
Naturalist
died 1882 Portrait
William Ewart Gladstone
Prime Minister
died 1888 Portrait
Robert Browning
Poet
died 1889 Portrait
Alfred Tennyson
Poet laureate
died 1892 Portrait


 

20th century

Andrew Bonar Law
Prime Minister
died 1923 See Note 2 Portrait
Thomas Hardy
Novelist
died 1928
See Note 3 Portrait
Rudyard Kipling
Writer
died 1936 Portrait
Ernest Rutherford
Nobel prize winning physicist
died 1937 Portrait

Neville Chamberlain
Prime Minister

died 1940 Portrait
Sir J.J. Thomson
Nobel prize winning physicist
died 1940 Portrait
Ernest Bevin
Politician
died 1951 Portrait
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Composer
died 1958 Portrait
Clement Attlee
Prime Minister
died 1967 Portrait
John Masefield
Poet laureate
died 1967 Portrait
Sir Laurence Olivier
Actor
died 1989 Portrait


 

Notes
1. Oliver Cromwell's body was disinterred after the Restoration of the monarchy with Charles II in 1660. Cromwell's body was hanged at Tyburn, decapitated and reburied at an unknown location. The head is buried near the chapel of Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge where he had studied from 1616-17.

2. Since 1906 only ashes are allowed to be interred in the Abbey.

3. Thomas Hardy's heart is buried in the churchyard at Stinsford in Dorset.

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